A reader of simone de beauvoir Essay

A reader of Simone de Beauvoir ‘s radical mid-20th century work, Le Deuxieme Sexe ( 1949 ) , would non be surprised to come across the complementary footings “ transcendency ” and “ immanency ” since they emerge on such a regular footing. Both of these footings are unfastened to debate and conformance as they “ represent the mutual oppositions ” matching to the male and female ( Kvigne et al, 2002: 82 ) . They play a cardinal function in understanding Beauvoir ‘s philosophical probe of the cardinal procedures in the formation of the ego and besides of the foundations of patriarchal subjugation in Western civilization. Her application of these constructs to depict how work forces and adult females are clearly culturally conditioned to their gender is non merely corroborated when considered in its ain historical construction but besides when we reflect on our apprehension of gender functions in Western society in the early twentieth century. At the beginning, this essay will cast visible radiation on Beauvoir ‘s text and its impact within the populace sphere. It will so analyze the constructs “ transcendency ” and “ immanency ” and reflect on their deductions for her women’s rightist theory, viz. her aspirations sing the hereafter of the two sexes in society.

Simone de Beauvoir ‘s treatise, frequently regarded as the first full-length socio-political and philosophical probe into the position of adult females in society, is a utile point of mention for those wishing to familiarize themselves with all facets of feminist idea within a theoretical model: the roots of female subjugation, definition and release. It has attracted a coevals of readers who identify with its supplication to reason, historical truth and truth. With this readership comes the mixture of different readings the text invites: women’s rightist, sociological, psychoanalytical, biological, philosophical and political. The writer inquiries worlds about work forces, adult females and freedom in a patriarchal society every bit good as the caustic effects of the constructed and unreal functions with which we still struggle. The text, which heralded a feminist revolution in the 1950s, can so be construed as a permanent rational basis of modern-day Western feminism. However, much of its extremely controversial content has infuriated critical and literary constitutions, ensuing in a rush of hostile articles and hate mail. Even Albert Camus gave significant unfavorable judgment to Beauvoir, his close friend, for doing Gallic work forces appear foolish. However, this brave and superb piece of literature gave adult females a corporate voice and provided them with an chance to aerate their concerns and social inequalities. It unusually elicited letters of gratitude from its mostly female readership and stimulated a wealth of adult females ‘s literature in the old ages following its publication in France in 1949. Written shortly after the Holocaust, at the beginning of France ‘s colonial struggle in North Africa, and at a clip when Afro-american authors such as Richard Wright brought their existential philosopher political orientations to the head of Gallic literature ( Fabre 1978: 39 ) , Beauvoir demonstrated that patriarchate was, basically, the major cause of female subordination.

We will write a custom essay sample on
A reader of simone de beauvoir Essay
or any similar topic only for you
Order now

In this work, the writer presents the constructs of “ transcendency ” and “ immanency ” in the class of trying to unknot the major inquiry, “ Qu’est Ce qu’une femme? ” ( Beauvoir 1949: 1 ) . She challenges the thought of generic footings such as “ masculin ” and “ feminin ” being symmetrical, which, to her belief, merely pertains to fiddling specialnesss inscribed on legal certification ( Beauvoir 1949: 16 ) . The well-thought-of writer argues that the masculine is epitomised as the normative “ default ” in Western civilization and that the feminine is delineated against this:

“ Elle se determine et se differencie par resonance a l’homme et non celui-ci par resonance a elle ; elle est l’inessentiel en face de l’essentiel. Il est lupus erythematosus Sujet, Illinois est l’Absolu: elle est l’Autre ” ( Beauvoir 1949: vol. 1, 17 ) .

Beauvoir takes the conceptual double star Soi/Autre to her ain dimension as she relates this codification of limit to more than merely male and female dealingss. For case, she explains its imports all the manner through the cultural history of the West, with analogies to myth, its usage in psychological warfare to make anti-semitic and racist political orientations towards Blacks and Jews, and its associated usage to recommend class-based subjugation ( Beauvoir 1949 ) . This is an apparent strong suit in her work since legion critics such as Tidd ( 1999 ) , Stavro ( 2007 ) and Simons ( 1990 ) indicate that Beauvoir did non restrict her concern to gender subjugation, but documented and battled against subjugation in a multiplicity of signifiers.

Beauvoir defines her constructs of “ transcendency ” and “ immanency ” against this very model of subjugation. In Le Deuxieme Sexe and other theoretical and ethical plants such as Pyrrhus et Cineas, the writer suggests that related to this conceptualization of Soi/Autre, a farther duality nowadayss itself that is a simple feature of subjugation – the differentiation between two types of persons in the universe, those who participate and contribute in inventive and inspiring activities, and those demoted to lives of immanency concerned with the saving of life in its most standard signifier ( Beauvoir 1949 ) . It should be noted that in patriarchal societies, the province of immanency has traditionally been associated with adult females, while the province of transcendency has been reserved for work forces.

Transcendence encapsulates the impression that the premeditated consciousness of people thrusts them towards something farther and extra. They have a natural longing to excel the conditions that they find themselves implicated in. For Kvigne et Al ( 2002: 82 ) , transcendency can happen look in “ actions ” and “ undertakings ” with a field substance or aim. Transcendence is wholly different to developmental fluctuations linked to growing as it calls for qualities of witting finding, motive and creativeness by a human topic ( Beauvoir 1949 ) .

Beauvoir considers freedom to be an indispensable societal value and an premise for transcendency. The writer makes the difference between freedom on an experiential plane and freedom in the life of single work forces and adult females. She claims that the fact that some persons have well more autonomy and more chances for transcendency than others is a categorical ground to elicit contention ( Moi 1999 ) . Womans are, in most states, accorded less freedom than work forces:

“ [ … ] oui, les femmes dans l’ensemble sont aujourd’hui inferieures aux places, c’est-a-dire que leur state of affairs leur ouvre de moindres possibilites: lupus erythematosus probleme c’est de savoir si cet etat de choses doit se perpetuer ” ( Beauvoir 1949: vol. 1, 27 ) .

The induction of undertakings by the person is a agency of showing freedom and it is through self-made programs that an single seizes the universe as theirs. Therefore human existences have the capableness of altering their destiny ( Beauvoir 1949 ) .

Immanence, on the other manus, links neither to facticity nor to Satre ‘s en-soi, instead it is associated with humdrum insistent work that does non dispute or excite the head. It is non associated with qualities such as optimism, assurance and inventiveness and it yields nil “ lasting through which we move beyond ourselves ” ( Simons 1999: 120 ) . It is a prolongation of life or a mere care of the position quo.

Beauvoir did non theoretically invent these constructs for her ain dissoluteness. Rather, it was done so on the footing of leting her readers to use them to their day-to-day lives. From this point of view, “ transcendency ” and immanence can be defined in footings of the mundane work and actions of human existences. Veltman ( 2004 ) and Simons ( 1999 ) have proposed their ain illustrations of surpassing work but other illustrations consist of edifice, discovering, planing, contriving, painting and analyzing whereas immanent work mostly involves domestic undertakings such as cookery, clean uping, rinsing, fostering kids and even biological maps such as giving birth and suckling babies. The chief thought to hold on in this pronounced difference is that activities which entail immanency are quintessentially unproductive, in the sense that they require clip and energy, but achieve nil of critical importance ( Veltman 2004: 114 ) . St. simons ( 1999: 122 ) suggests they demand adult females to be “ inactive instruments of the forces of nature, ” as oppose to them being able to introduce or make something like a “ craftsman makes an object. ”

The division of immanency and transcendency harmonizing to gender manifests itself in the mundane lives of work forces and adult females. For illustration, misss are brought up to populate in a province of immanency as sisters, married womans and female parents, normally confined to the place, whereas male childs are encouraged to see transcendency as an indispensable portion of their masculine individuality.

In the chapter ‘Enfance, ‘ Beauvoir indicates that passiveness is an indispensable feature of the ‘feminine ‘ adult female that is made to look attractive to the miss from early childhood. Her place of immanency is hence nil new or unfamiliar but it is inevitable and preordained: “ C’est un destin qui lui est impose par ses educateurs et par la societe ” ( Beauvoir 1949, vol 2: 28 ) . Beauvoir argues that the miss will finally go epouse, mere and grand-mere who will keep the house and offer her kids the same attention and attending she herself received in early life. Marriage and maternity involve her full destiny whereas male childs are much less concerned about their function as hubby and male parent. The subjective place of the miss echoes Hegel ‘s doctrines of immanency, which were surely a beginning of inspiration for the writer, every bit good as stolidity, versus doctrines of transcendency such as Thomism or Aristotelean tradition.

The male child, as argued by Beauvoir, engages in transcendent work that will convey him chance and success. Irrespective of his ambitious, thoughtless or timid nature, he gazes towards an unfastened hereafter full of hope, optimism and chance:

[ … ] Illinois sera marin ou ingenieur, forty-nine restera aux title-holders ou forty-nine partira pour La ville, forty-nine verra lupus erythematosus monde, forty-nine deviendra riche ; forty-nine se sent libre en face d’un avenir ou l’attendent diethylstilbestrols opportunities imprevues ( Beauvoir 1949, vol. 2: 52 ) .

Transcendence for him expands into the hereafter and his apprenticeship for life consists in free motion towards the outside universe. He takes portion in actions that require his manful organic structure and physical capablenesss, for illustration, mounting trees, contending with his comrades and confronting them in violent games. Harmonizing to Beauvoir, he is witting of his organic structure as a agency of ruling nature and as a arm for combat. The male child participates in assorted activities of transcendency “ a travers jeux, athleticss, luttes, defis, epreuves ” ( Beauvoir 1949: vol 2: 29 ) .

In ‘La Jeune Fille, ‘ the immature miss, now approaching the age of adolescence is old plenty to exert some liberty that is unfamiliar to her, to research new options and travel beyond the restraints of household life but she has non yet descended into matrimony. She is lacerate between the protection of her place, a sheltered topographic point where her relations can maintain close ticker on her, and the encouraging chance of cultivating her imaginativeness in the external universe. Staying at place is impermanent ; she is good cognizant of its transiency, and so are her parents who hope she will shortly abdicate her unladylike vivacity and finally settle down into a nubile immature adult female, finally fulfilling her customary function of immanency as an obedient homemaker and female parent. So it seems that she is a figure, for Beauvoir, full of chance, hope and optimism, yet somehow unluckily tragic.

The immature miss, confined to her place and non being able to productively excel the new boundaries with which she is confronted, is urged by her female parent to continue and carry through the traditional function of adult female as the nurturer of the household and place through the completion of family undertakings. Beauvoir highlights the monolithic extent of the adversities that immature adult females face in modern-day Western society and invites the implied women’s rightist reader to sympathize with the immature miss and relate to her hard state of affairs:

“ La mere l’envoie vite faire une committee. Il y a aussi a terminer les travaux menagers laisses en suspens et elle a encore a s’occuper diethylstilbestrols soins de sa propre garde-robe [ … ] Elle se sent malheureuse, compare sa state of affairs a celle de boy frere qui n’a aucun devoir a remplir a la maison et elle se revolte ” ( Beauvoir 1949: vol. 2, 95-96 ) .

The miss is interrupted at times of incommodiousness, even when overwhelmed by the private ideas that continue to preoccupy her. Yet the unfairness that causes the most pain and defeat is the fact that her brother is independent and unimpeded from any family responsibilities. Mothers do non enforce house maintaining jobs and common plodding on male childs, which allows them to prosecute in other activities associated with transcendency such as out-of-door diversion. For illustration, Beauvoir implies that work forces, unlike adult females, have the capablenesss of independently organizing activities such as “ une longue randonnee, un ocean trip a pied ou a bicyclette ou s’adonner a un jeu tel que le billard, les boulles, etc ” ( Beauvoir 1949: vol. 2, 96 ) .

Indeed, in doing the distinction between transcendency and immanency, Beauvoir is non disputing the thought that subjective activities are non ever important. In any instance, people need to supply for themselves, or have provided for them, cooking, cleansing, rinsing and other domestic-type services. Likewise, childbearing is an indispensable requirement for the prolongation of the human species. Furthermore, as critics of Beauvoir have contended, it is important to take into consideration the elaboratenesss in her consciousness of these thoughts throughout her different plants. For case, Beauvoir recognises that subjective labors can on occasion be original and inspired ; the same manner activities of transcendency can be of a cyclic and unstimulating nature ( Veltman 2004: 120 ) . A clear illustration of each would be the instance of a female parent run uping up a lacerate sweatshirt for her kid to have on as an activity of immanency associated with creativeness, whereas an creative person paying punctilious attending to detail in her picture would be a insistent transcendent activity.

In order to prosecute this complexness farther, it would be utile to do a differentiation between the constructs transcendency and immanency on the evidences of their identifiable associations with two cardinal properties: ( 1 ) experiential rationalization, and ( 2 ) lastingness over clip. Veltman ( 2004: 124 ) remarks on Beauvoir ‘s representation of these impressions:

“ Since activities of immanency simply sustain life and accomplish nil more than its continuance, they besides can non function to warrant life as its raison d’etre. Rather, experiential justification can be established merely within surpassing activities that move beyond the care of life itself [ … ] If a life is to hold ground for being instead than prevail entirely without ground, it must make outward toward the hereafter through the production of something originative, constructive, edifying or otherwise lasting. ”

Having therefore examined and defined the restrictions of Beauvoir ‘s constructs of transcendency and immanency, their deductions for her theory of feminism remains to face us. It is incontrovertible, for case, that she employs them to look into the procedures of female subjugation throughout history, both on a broad-spectrum and besides in the specific context of Western society in the 1950 ‘s. As Beauvoir contends,

“ [ … ] la state of affairs de la femme, c’est que, etant comme tout etre humain, une liberte autonome, elle se decouvre et se choisit dans un monde ou lupus erythematosuss hommes lui imposent de s’assumer comme l’Autre: on pretend La figer en objet, et la vouer a l’immanence, puisque SA transcendency sera perpetuellement transcendee par une autre scruples essentielle et souveraine ” ( Beauvoir 1949: vol. 1, 34 ) .

Obviously, Beauvoir ‘s usage of the constructs of “ transcendency ” and “ immanency ” is located within a broader model of female subjugation by work forces in society. Furthermore, it is besides evident that Beauvoir has a distinct scheme in her work in that she does non see this subjugation emotionlessly. She continually inquiries how adult females can hedge this subjugation and attain transcendency in their day-to-day lives:

Remark dans la status feminine peut s’accomplir un etre humain? Quelles voies lui sont ouvertes? [ … ] Comment retrouver l’independence au sein de la dependance? Quelles circonstances limitent La liberte de la femme et peut-elle lupus erythematosuss depasser? Ce sont la lupus erythematosuss inquiries fondamentales que nous voudrions elucider. C’est dire que nous interessant aux opportunities de l’individu, nous ne definirons pas Ces opportunities en Termess de bonheur, mais en termes de liberte .

What Beauvoir desires is that all human existences, adult females and work forces, should hold entree to the province of transcendency, which she equates with freedom, creativeness and advancement. However, due to the manner society has put adult females in a low-level place, merely work forces have been allowed to see transcendency, whilst adult females have been confined to immanence.

It follows, hence, that the deductions of this theory are that Beauvoir wants adult females to acquire out of their immanency and be able to see transcendency in the same manner as work forces, viz. through instruction, political relations and paid employment outside the place and the possibility of developing their creative and rational potency, for illustration, through going authors, creative persons etc. In other words, for Beauvoir, transcendency is the merely desirable place to be in for everybody and she believes that gender equality can merely be achieved, if this place is available every bit to both work forces and adult females. This means that society has to make more chances for adult females in the countries that work forces seem to rule. Beauvoir contends that fiscal independency for adult females is cardinal for their release as it endows them with executable chances for transcendency. Veltman ( 2004: 140-141 ) implies that modern-day Western adult females are positively exposed to touchable possibilities for release, as they are able to detect “ political and rational instruments necessary for rebellion ” against female subjugation.

Although modern-day critics have superseded the guess that the transcendence/immanence duality is efficaciously Sartrean with an light of the duality as Hegelian and Marxist, some feminist philosophers sustain the belief that this impression is antique, mostly metaphysical and in peculiar, ‘male-identified. ‘ A major complexness of the duality is its deduction that maternity and domestic labor are viewed as immanency, i.e. , as non-creative and non-productive. Kvigne et Al ( 2002: 82 ) place unfavorable judgments of Beauvoir for her deficiency of input with regard to heightening adult females ‘s state of affairs and assurance, but lauding work forces ‘s lives as boundless and self-sufficient, by portraying adult females ‘s lives as restricted and oppressed. She has besides been censured for picturing the life of work forces in a positive visible radiation and the life of adult females in negative footings and particularly for a deficiency of accent on the constructive facets in the traditional life and experiences of adult females.

Another deduction of Beauvoir ‘s theory is her exposure of the caring work of adult females in footings of immanency as oppose to transcendence. She fails to admit the chances in maternity, the alone resonance between female parent and kids as an honor and foundation of transcendency in adult females ‘s lives. Moi ( 1999 ) considers this to be one of the most combative statements in Beauvoir feministic theory as she perceives the destructive ‘mother image ‘ as a invariably permeating throughout Le Deuxieme Sexe. However, whilst caring work is mostly concerned with catering for the demands of others, it can besides open doors for transcendency. From looking after the ailment and old to the upbringing of kids, they are all feasible chances for get awaying one ‘s subjective status and stretching beyond oneself. Furthermore, history is sated with female function theoretical accounts who fought for societal alteration to develop the province of personal businesss for kids, the sick, the deprived and the aged.

In the class of the adult females ‘s release procedure, within which Beauvoir played a main function, adult females have achieved freedom and transcendency preponderantly through independent careers outside place. It is merely a recent phenomenon that adult females have started to gain that transcendency and freedom can merely be obtained through paid employment outside the place. Critics such as Chodorow ( 1978 ) , Lundgren-Gothlin ( 1992 ) , Halsa ( 1996 ) and Brembeck et Al. ( 1999 ) portion the premise that the transmutation of adult females ‘s behavior and their new mentality on life has well influenced their conventional maps as female parents and carers. In comparing to former coevalss of adult females, the determination for contemporary adult females to work every bit homemakers as their chief calling has perceptibly reduced. As affirmed by Blom ( 1992 ) , Skrede ( 1996 ) and W?rness ( 2000 ) , dual work load ( paid employment together with the function of household nurturer ) remains to be prevailing among adult females.

The ‘imperialism of consciousness ‘ is a farther important deduction of Beauvoir ‘s theory that feminists such as Schaaning ( 1992 ) have alluded to, which refers to the conflict for ideological control and hegemony. The chief point to understand is Beauvoir ‘s claim that adult females have to get authorization over their several lives and that this demands obtaining realization of “ differences and diversenesss among adult female and between adult females and work forces ” ( Veltman 2004: 85 ) . Feminists have outlined that research on work forces as ‘imperialism of consciousness ‘ demands to be examined with regard to sickness and rehabilitation of adult females which will cast visible radiation on the ways that the health care sectors have been impacted by patriarchal consciousness and the costs that this may hold for female patients.


  • Beauvoir, S. ( 1949 ) , Le Deuxieme Sexe, vol. 1, Paris: Gallimard.
  • Beauvoir, S. ( 1949 ) , Le Deuxieme Sexe, vol. 2, Paris: Gallimard.
  • Blom I. ( 1992 ) Kvinnenes Verdenshistorie ( The World History of Women ) . Cappelen, Oslo.
  • Brembeck H. ( 1999 ) Det ( station ) moderne moderskapet. In: Familj och kon.Etnologiska perspektiv ( eds B.Meurling, B. Lunggren & A ; I. Lovkrina ) , pp. 171-189.Studentlitteratur, Lund.
  • Chodorow N. ( 1978 ) The Reproduction of Motherhood. California Press, Berkeley.
  • Fabre, M. “ Richard Wright and the Gallic Existentialists, ” Vol. 5, No. 2, pp.39-51, summer 1978.
  • Halsa B. ( 1996 ) Variasjoner over et tema. Feminisme Som Teori ( Variations over a subject: feminism as theory ) . In: Hun og Han. Kjonn one forskning og politikk ( She and He. Sexual activity and Gender in Research and Politics ) ( ed. H. Holter ) , pp.141-194. Pax, Oslo.
  • Kvigne, K and Kirkevold, M. “ A feminist position on shot rehabilitation: the relevancy of de Beauvoir ‘s theory, ” Nursing Philosophy, 3, pp. 79-89,2002.
  • Lundgren-Gothlin E. ( 1992 ) Kon och existens: Studier i Simone de Beauvoir ‘s Le Deuxieme Sex ( Sex and Existence: Surveies in Simone de Beauvoir ‘s Le Deuxieme Sex ) . Daidalos, Goteborg.
  • Moi T. ( 1999 ) , What is a Woman? And Other Essays, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Schaaning E. ( 1992 ) Modernitetens Opplosning ( The Dissolution of Modernity ) . Spartacus forlag, Oslo.
  • St. simons, M. “ Sexism and the Philosophical Canon: On Reading Beauvoir ‘s The Second Sex, ” 1990.
  • Stavro, E. “ Rethinking Identity and Coalitional Politics, Insights from Simone de Beauvoir, ” 40:2:439-463, Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • Tidd, U. “ The Self-Other Relation in Beauvoir ‘s Ethical motives and Autobiography, ” Hypatia vol. 14, no.4, 1999.
  • Veltman, A. “ The Sisyphean Torture of Housework: Simone de Beauvoir and Inequitable Divisions of Domestic Work in Marriage, ” Hypatia – Volume 19, Number 3, Summer 2004, pp. 121-143.

Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one? Check it out